Fortune

Ford Finds a New Leader, By Design

CEO Jim Hackett brings an intellectual approach and an outsider’s perspective to the job. Here’s how he plans to transform the underperforming automaker.

SOME COMPANIES take a cookie-cutter approach to selecting their CEOs. They might favor home-grown talent, for instance, or engineers steeped in the company’s products, or sales-people who excel at spinning a corporate yarn. The next CEO tends to look like the previous CEO, and will be followed by someone cut from the same cloth.

The Ford Motor Co., on the other hand, follows no discernible pattern at all. In the past two decades alone it has toggled from an operations whiz (Jacques Nasser) to a young scion of its founding family (Bill Ford) to an exec who was an automotive neophyte (Alan Mulally) and back again to another true-blue insider (Mark Fields).

With the unexpected sacking of Fields this spring and the appointment of 62-year-old former Steelcase CEO Jim Hackett, Ford has once again zigged where before it had zagged. Hackett isn’t a car guy. And unlike Mulally, who had previously piloted Boeing’s commercial airplane business, he hasn’t run a giant industrial concern. Instead, Hackett is as close to an intellectual as the executive suite is ever likely

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from Fortune

Fortune11 min read
Big-box Rebound: How Target Packaged A Turnaround
In 2017, the struggling megachain spooked Wall Street and earned mockery in the retail world by committing billions to revamping its stores. That Hail Mary pass connected for a touchdown: Today, more-inviting shopping floors and smoother e-commerce h
Fortune3 min read
Translating Success
IN HIS 41 YEARS ON EARTH SO FAR, Luis von Ahn has changed the world three times. People still blame him for the first. That invention, which had its public debut on Yahoo in 2000, had a mouthful of a name; the Guatemalan-born computer scientist call
Fortune1 min readTech
Capital Offense
YOU’D BE HARD-PRESSED to find a company more committed to using the so-called public cloud than Capital One. America’s seventh-biggest bank by revenue has spent years winding down its data centers—from eight in 2014 to zero planned by the end of 2020